Here's what I put in the Christmas TV thread:
I also thought it was fairly poor, by Royle Family standards. The show's original magic was thanks to its subtlety and realism, but over the years that's slowly given way to exaggeration and absurdity (Denise and Dave "forgetting" to pick the kids up from school - again, and the whole Joe storyline). And there was too much repetition; the line "vacant lady wanted" was funny the first time but not the 10th time.
On the positive side, I thought the new character Cadgin' Carol from next door was brilliantly written and well observed (because I've had the misfortune to have known people exactly like her). And I do love the way the house has never been improved after all these years, still bearing the scars of the aborted attempt at stripping the wallpaper from an episode 12 years ago.
Just to add, upon a second viewing, there's some abysmal continuity in the scenes between Joe, Jim and Barbara from 16:00 - 19:00. The pink envelope tucked into Joe's cardigan changes rotation and position 8 times; prime fodder for Robert Webb's next "TV Mistakes" series on BBC Three.
I genuinely didn't realise that the Royle Family was so heavily edited together from so many different takes; I thought most scenes were largely a point-and-shoot executed in one take. Or maybe it used to be like that but not any more.